Russell Jackson dips his toe into the sweet life, taking Ferrari’s newest offering – the Ferrari Roma – for a spin to the Hunter Valley.
Going for a drive does not need to have purpose, according to Italian marque, Ferrari. Instead, Ferrari advocates driving just for the thrill of it, the journey as enjoyable as the destination. It’s done this in inimitable style with the Ferrari Roma GT, aiming to seduce new customers by involving the passenger as much as indulging the driver. Understated and timelessly elegant, its simplistic and graceful curves are a nod to the legendary 250 GT models of the 1960s, a clean holistic design needing no superfluous detail. From the perforated front grille to the ample arches at the rear, it maintains the design rhetoric with a wraparound rear screen incorporating a discreet active rear wing, deployed at speed or under heavy braking for stability.
Eager to test the brand’s philosophy, I jump in to stretch the Ferrari Roma’s legs on a journey to the equally elegant Spicers Tower Lodge in the Hunter Valley. Pressing the soft-touch starter button, I’m greeted by the bark of Ferrari’s iconic, award-winning 3.9 litre twin turbo V8, packing a sizeable punch at 456kW and 761Nm of torque. It doesn’t have the high-pitched Ferrari shriek I expected – more a mature bellow from the redesigned exhaust system using bypass valves instead of mufflers. But with all that power comes lightness and grace – the Ferrari Roma weighs just 1,570 kilograms, made possible by the liberal use of carbon fibre inside and out, from the door sills to the rear splitter housing the traditional quad rose-gold tailpipes.
I find this prancing horse equally well-mannered on motorway and vine-lined lanes of the Hunter. Being a GT, Ferrari has tuned the engine appropriately, softened the lightning-fast gear changes and given the gearbox longer gear ratios for a more fluid driving experience. The ability of the engine to happily pull in higher gears with low rpm is impressive, offering a class-leading 11.2/100km combined fuel consumption. The huge crystal-clear digital instrument cluster provides data in customisable guises negotiated by a steering wheel-mounted track pad. The steering wheel also houses push-button indicators, wiper/light controls and the traditional five-position manettino dial to adjust the car’s driving modes, so that hands never need to leave the wheel and eyes remain on the road.
Ferrari typically places the driver at the centre of everything, but the Ferrari Roma’s mantra is about harmony and symmetry. The passenger is equally rewarded with a sculpted elliptical cockpit and a personal 21.6 centimetre touchscreen strip display, giving additional access to control the drive’s ambience. Boot space is ample at 0.28 cubic metres – more than enough for your luggage for a road trip. This being Ferrari, you can even order specially designed luggage in the same colour as your leather seats. Through the blistering heat of the Hunter and mingling with holiday traffic on the motorway, the Ferrari Roma displays more patience than I do. The ease with which it deals with the stop-start grind makes time in the slow lane more bearable; and when the traffic eases and the road opens up again, that allfamiliar desire to play returns. “Sublime” is the word I use as I reluctantly hand the keys back. This prancing horse is the full package – if I were waking up to the Roma in my garage every day, life would indeed be la dolce vita.
This article originally appeared in volume 44 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.
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